Many Japanese restaurants serve a “yama-mori,” or “mountain-sized,” serving of rice and other main dishes, but Adachi’s in Akihabara may boast the biggest one in the country.
Adachi’s claim to fame has always been its large portions. The first Adachi’s operated out of the Kanda Market, and its clientele were people who worked in the fruit and vegetable market. They worked up huge appetites by performing manual labor from the early morning hours, and regular portions would not fill their bellies. It was then that the elder Adachi decided to provide huge portions.
The affable younger Adachi told me all about it during my first visit to the restaurant. The restaurant is famous for letting its patrons eat to their hearts’ content, and anyone who has ever dined there knows that the “regular” portion of rice is five to six times larger than normal. That cleans out a normal rice cooker after just two customers, so the owner spends most of his time between meals cooking rice.
“First time here?” he asked as he led me to my table. “You’ve probably heard already, but let me tell you about what we do here . . .”
I could hardly make a squeak before he launched into his explanation. Most first-timers, he said, could not make it through an Adachi’s “normal” portion, so when they order the normal size, he advises them order the “light” size.
“You look pretty thin, so you’d better make it a double-light,” he said as he looked me over. Now, I am skinny, but I am confident in my ability to eat, and this wasn’t my first rodeo when it came to eating big.
Thinking big, I ordered big, but the owner suggested I start with a smaller portion and work my way up after I finished it. Hearing this, I got even more determined to tackle the normal. I practically had to coerce him into doing it for me, and the good-natured owner made his way back to the kitchen and went to work on my meal.
He moved around the kitchen skillfully as he told me the story of the restaurant. He gave me a “good luck” as he placed tofu salad, miso soup, and a veritable mountain of chicken kara-age in front of me.
It was all I could do to keep from crying out over the enormous amount of food I saw before me. It looked way bigger than pictures I’d seen.
“Bigger than it looked in pictures, eh?” the shop owner said, reading my mind. “Everyone is surprised when they lay eyes on the real thing. You gonna be OK?”
I’d had to persuade him to let me order this much, so I had no choice but to be OK. I stammered a response to him in a small voice and set to work on the gigantic meal.
Gingerly holding my chopsticks, I worked my way up the pile of rice as carefully as a mountain climber scaling a snow-covered slope. Of course, I scooped up the bits that fell on the table and ate them as well. I have no recollection at all of what happened between then and the owner’s heartfelt “Congratulations!” But, I did finish the normal portion.
Like any other restaurant, Adachi’s also has “large” and “extra large” portions. The owner showed me the humongous square plate for Adachi’s large, and their normal dish fit inside nicely. I heard that, in the restaurant’s entire history, only one person has ordered Adachi’s extra large and finished it.
Adachi’s has not changed its portions since that fateful day in the Kanda Market. The candid, personable owner embraces the uniqueness of Adachi’s and feels the love from the customers. Even if you’re not able to take on the ginormous portions there, the warm atmosphere and happy talk alone are worth the visit.
[ Read in Japanese ]